A little over a week ago, I talked with my doctor and made a plan to wean off of the anxiety meds I’ve been taking for the last 8 or so months. They have been an enormous help in resetting my brain and easing the daily struggles with irrational, and often highly unlikely, thoughts and fears. There was only so much that my body was capable of handling on its own, and after nearly a year of wrestling those thoughts, I sought help, and I’m so glad I did. But now, as Adam and I contemplate what the future might hold for our family, it seems time to end the medications. Not because they haven’t been wonderfully helpful, but because I’m in a really good place. God has been good. He has shown me His promises are ones that won’t be broken and that when I’m down and low, he’s there in that valley with me. Psalm 23 says it perfectly, from start to finish. The Lord is my shepherd… He restores my soul… even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME.
I didn’t make the decision for meds lightly and as I discussed the process of weaning with my doctor, the final decision was one made prayerfully and cautiously. Parenting my living child is as important as grieving my dead child. I have to be healthy and present for her in as many ways as I often want to retreat into the depths of grief - its often easier there. To just process all of the memories and emotions from George Mason’s time on earth, both in my womb and out. There are no active fears that creep up on me. There are no dinners to be made or toddler behaviors to address and correct. It is just me, my memories, and my Savior. So as Adam and I talked through this next step, we made sure to allow room for grace as we transition. This next season of holidays and gatherings will inevitably be hard. It will be full of all the ways that I miss George Mason and all of the joys of having a family and being together with them. I will likely feel many of those same fears and anxieties begin to creep back into my thoughts, but this time, this year, its different from last. It’s not just about surviving the unknowns of life without my son. Its about living forward and understanding backward. Allowing myself to feel whatever it is that comes up. Processing the hard stuff, and then letting it go and giving it to God. Because I’ve survived the first year - and now almost the second - and if I’ve learned anything, its that God handles this way better than I do. every single time.
This morning as Audrey and I walked through Trader Joes to pick out our Thanksgiving turkey, I was hit with the very vivid memories of preparing our thanksgiving meal 2 years ago. I was pregnant with George, and while I don’t remember the dates exactly, we had just recently been told there was not much expectation for our sweet boy to survive to the 28 week mark, let alone be born full term and alive. I remember the devastation I felt as I drove home from that sonogram. I dropped Adam at work and then I cried. hard, loud, ugly tears. I texted my dad “he’s dying” and then I parked my car and walked into my friend’s house to pick up Audrey Nole. As she opened the door, she gave me the biggest embrace. It felt like it lasted for months (and honestly, it did), and without asking me any questions, she cared for my daughter, brought me a box of tissues, and cried with me. There’s not much about the following days and weeks that I remember. Details from those last weeks/months of my pregnancy are cloudy at best on most days. But I remember putting together my thanksgiving menu and shopping list, wondering, as I wrote each item down, if I would still be pregnant by the time I served this grand meal. Would thanksgiving be a celebration or would it be canceled? I remember the intense waiting. Not knowing if or when I would stop feeling my baby move. Waiting to call the doctor and let them know that this precious baby had died. Waiting to yell at God just a little bit louder than I already was. Waiting to bury a little boy; barely known, deeply loved.
I remember the comments from grocery store cashiers as I paid for the various items on my list. “Oh! You are so big! What a blessing, I’m sure you can’t wait to meet this precious one!” or “You are just glowing! Boy or Girl? When are you due?” I didn’t feel like I was glowing. I didn’t feel like I could even accurately answer the due date question. My often filter free mouth would want to blurt out all the heavy things I was dealing with and then walk away. But as I tried to smile my way through each grocery check out, I was left with that pit in my stomach of all the what ifs and worst case scenarios.
I don’t think that if I were being honest with myself, that I ever expected to carry George Mason to term. I braced myself for that c-section after we no longer heard a heart beat. My deepest fears were being lived out in the darkest parts of my mind. And as I stood over the stove stirring gravy, or chopping veggies, I subconsciously counted kicks and wondered if today would be the last day I would know my son alive. But on the complete opposite side of all of that, I just had to believe that God was going to give me a miracle. That I would give birth to a living baby. A baby that could breath and cry and eat. A baby that could make those tiniest of coos as he met his parents for the first time (and not the last). There was no way that I could live each, wake up each morning, if I didn’t believe in that miracle. So each day was riddled with both the preparation of losing my son and the unstoppable belief that God was going to save him. And this morning in front of the Trader Joe’s turkey selection, I felt every one of this conflicting emotions flood my head and heart in an instant. Perhaps its no wonder the anxiety had gotten so bad. Perhaps its also no wonder that this journey has brought me to my knees, and therefore closer to my Savior, than I’ve ever been.